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Distributed for Reaktion Books

On Photography

Edited and Translated by Esther Leslie
Walter Benjamin’s 1931 essay “A Short History of Photography” is a landmark in the understanding and criticism of the medium, offering surprising new takes on such photographic pioneers as David Octavius Hill and Nicéphore Niépce and their aesthetic and technical achievements.
On Photography presents a new translation of that essay along with a number of other writings by Benjamin, some of them presented in English for the first time. Translator and editor Esther Leslie sets Benjamin’s work in context with prefaces to each piece and contributes a substantial introduction that considers Benjamin’s engagement with photography in all its forms, including early commercial studio photography, the uses of photography in science, and much more. 

128 pages | 20 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2015

Art: Photography

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Walter Benjamin and the Birth of Photography
Esther Leslie
Small History of Photography (1931)
Nothing Wrong with the Illustrated Press! (1925)
Letter to Grete Cohn (16 October 1927)
New Things about Flowers (1928)
Paris, the City in the Mirror: Declarations of Love by Poets and Artists to the ‘Capital of the World’ (1929)
The Wall (c. 1932-4)
Review of Gisèle Freund’s La Photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle. Essai de sociologie et d’esthétique (1938)
Photo Acknowledgements 

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